U.S. U-18s heading to European tournament | Soccer By Ives

Photo by ISIphotos.com

The United States Under-18 mens team will square off with Germany, France and host Israel in a four-team tournament held in Tel Aviv next week.

Coach Mike Matkovich has assembled a 20-man roster, primarily of players from various development academies. The U-18s will face Germany on Dec. 13, France the following day and Israel on Dec. 16.

Here is the roster for the tournament:

GOALKEEPERS: Jonathan Kempin (Sporting Kansas City), Andrew Wolverton (Concorde Fire)

DEFENDERS: Michael Ambrose (FC Dallas Academy), Jonathan Campbell (North Carolina Fusion), Bryan Gallego (New York Red Bulls Academy), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (UANL Tigres), Boyd Okwuonu (FC Dallas Academy), Walker Zimmerman (GSA Phoenix)

MIDFIELDERS: Connor Hallisey (California Development Academy), Jordan McCrary (Concorde Fire), Daniel Metzger (New York Red Bulls Academy), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire), Marcus Salandy-Defour (D.C. United Academy), Will Trapp (Columbus Crew Academy), Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler (CASL Chelsea)

FORWARDS: Villyan Bijev (Cal Odyssey), Sean Okoli (Seattle Sounders Academy), Luis Rendon (FC Richmond Magic), Khiry Shelton (Lonestar SC Academy), Jonathan Top (FC Dallas Academy)

Club World Cup ready to hit full swing | Soccer By Ives

By TRAVIS CLARK

The tournament might technically have already started, but come tomorrow, some of the bigger clubs enter play in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Seven teams representing each continental confederation will be in action in the United Arab Emirates. Two smaller teams began the tournament Wednesday, with UAE side Al-Wahda defeating Hekari United, the Oceania representative from Papua New Guinea, 3-0.

The competition continues on Friday, as CONCACAF representative Pachuca takes on African club Tout Puissant Mazembe in the quarterfinals. Inter Milan and Internacional await the winners of the two quarterfinal matches in the semifinal.

In its seventh year, the Club World Cup has never been won by a team outside of Europe or South America. This automatically makes Inter Milan and Internacional favorites, as those two sides only have to play one game to reach the final.

Heres a look at the teams involved and the schedule:

PACHUCA

Confederation: CONCACAF

Two U.S. mens national team representatives will be trying to earn playing time, as the CONCACAF representative boasts Jose Francisco Torres and Herculez Gomez. This marks the third time that Pachuca has appeared at the CWC, and theyll be out to improve on previous sixth and fourth place finishes, in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

AL-WAHDA

Confederation: AFC/host

Al-Wahda is only in the competition as the host, and progressed through the qualifying round against Oceania representative Hekari United. The advantage of playing at home could be enough to secure an upset against Seongnam Chunma.

SEONGNAM IlWHA CHUNMA

Conferation: AFC

The most successful club in Korean soccer history, Seongnam has won the K-League 7 times. Winners of the Asian Champions League in 1995-96 (prior to the Club World Cups creation) and 2010, theyll be looking to hold off home side Al-Wahda, which would set up a semifinal with Inter Milan.

TP MAZEMBE

Confederation: CAF

This marks the second straight time that the club based in Congo DR progressed to the Club World Cup by means of winning the African Champions League. They enter the CWC without star striker Mabi Mputu, and face a difficult test in Pachuca.

INTER MILAN

Confederation: UEFA

The champions of both Italy and Europe last club season, Inter Milan have struggled under new manager Rafa Benitez, and many wonder if hell survive no matter what the result is in the UAE. Easily the most talented team in the competition with the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Etoo leading the attack.

INTERNACIONAL

Confederation: CONMEBOL

The 2010 Copa Libertadores Champions are the first returning winners, having previously triumphed at the Club World Cup in 2006. Theyve struggled a bit domesitcally of late, and will look to turn their fortunes around in Adu Dhabi. Giuliano and Andres DAlessandro are two of the talented players Internacional brings to the competition.

SCHEDULE

Quarterfinals

Pachuca vs. TP Mazembe, December 10, 11am FSC

Al-Wahda vs. Seongnam Chunma, December 11, 11am, FIFA.com

Semifinals

Pachuca/TP Mazembe vs. Internacional, December 14, 11am, FSC

Al-Wahda/Seongnam Chunma vs. Inter Milan, December 15, 12pm, FSC

Final

December 18, 12pm, FIFA.com

Doyle, McInerney, Gyau among 24 called into U-20 December camp in Florida | Soccer By Ives

Photo courtesy of Derby County F.C.

Thomas Rongen has selected his 24-man roster for next weeks United States Under-20 training camp, and it includes nine first-timers along with a number of players already established at that level.

Among the notable additions are Derby Countys Conor Doyle, who will be making his first appearance at any level of the U.S. youth system, and Soony Saad, Michigans prolific goal-scoring freshman.

The camp will be held from Dec. 12-19 in Sunrise, Fla., and it includes two friendlies against Canada, which will be played on Dec. 16 and 18.

For Saad, the Akron duo of Perry Kitchen and Zarek Valentin and Louisvilles Dylan Mares, their arrival at the camp will likely depend on how their respective teams fare at this weekends College Cup. The final is slated for the opening day of training camp.

Heres the U.S. U-20 roster:

GOALKEEPERS: Zac MacMath (Maryland), Kevin Piedrahita (America de Cali)

DEFENDERS: Gale Agbossoumonde (Estoril Praia), Greg Garza (Estoril Praia), Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke), Perry Kitchen (Akron), Eric Schoenle (West Virginia), Ben Sweat (South Florida), Zarek Valentin (Akron), Kory Veeder (Unattached)

MIDFIELDERS: Steven Evans (Portland), Joshua Gatt (SC Rheindorf Altach), Joe Gyau (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Alex Molano (Dinamo Zagreb), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Dillon Powers (Notre Dame), Kelyn Rowe (UCLA), Conor Shanosky (D.C. United)

FORWARDS: Conor Doyle (Derby County), Dylan Mares (Louisville), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Adrian Ruelas (Celtic), Soony Saad (Michigan), Omar Salgado (Unattached)

Portland Timbers make (fashion) statement with MLS jerseys | Soccer By Ives

By JOSE M. ROMERO

Not many MLS team jerseys look so distinctly different than the primary and secondary uniforms the expansion Portland Timbers unveiled Thursday afternoon at Portland International Airport.

Most figured green would be the primary color. It is, a dark green two-toned look with white and green sleeves, an axe on the upper back and a No Pity jock tag in honor of the Timbers Army, the teams main supporters group. Alaska Airlines, a Northwest-based carrier, is the jersey sponsor, those words splashed across the front.

The secondary kit, however, was the true star of the day Rose City red with white sleeves and red stripes, a Rose City logo badge in honor of the city and its nickname, thorns stitched into the back and down the middle of the two shades of red used, and the words Rose City stitched on the back.

Both jerseys feature the clubs primary crest on the top left front.

The Timbers staged a big production to present the jerseys and apparel line, using a hangar at the airport to house guests and opening the hangar doors to reveal a Boeing 737 jet on which was painted the team crest and a scarf over the fuselage.

Interestingly, both Boeing and Alaska Airlines are companies with Seattle roots, but the mere mention of Seattle drew boos at the unveiling. The two cities are longtime rivals in soccer going back to the NASL days and NBA days when Seattle had the Supersonics.

The plane rolled into the hangar, and people on board deplaned to a runway that they walked, fashion-show style, to model the Timbers gear. Alaska Airlines employees were featured as were players Steve Cronin (in primary kit), Ryan Pore and his wife Ashley, Adam Moffat, Peter Lowry, Eric Brunner (in secondary kit) and Rodney Wallace (long sleeve secondary kit).

The teams downtown Portland store opens Friday morning and the primary jerseys will be on sale. The secondary kits are available in early 2011.

What do you think about the Timbers new jerseys? Prefer the red or the green or neither? Share your thoughts below.

Americans Abroad: A Look Ahead | Soccer By Ives

By FRANCO PANIZO

Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres achieved their dreams of playing in a World Cup earlier this year, and now theyll get a chance to play in a different one.

Gomez, Torres and fellow American Marco Vidal all aim to get playing time on Friday as Pachuca begins its quest for the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Pachuca faces African champ TP Mazembe in the quarterfinals, with the winner being pitted against Brazilian club Internacional just four days later.

Stuart Holden wont be playing in the Club World Cup, but he should make his return to Bolton Wanderers starting lineup after recovering from a thigh injury. Holden is expected to resume his central midfield position when Bolton faces Blackburn.

Jonathan Spector isnt assured to start for West Ham United, but given his recent performances as a defensive midfielder, he is likely to see the field at some point when the club squares off against Manchester City. West Ham is currently in last place in the Premier League, but a win would serve the Hammers greatly in their attempt to escape the relegation zone.

Here is a rundown of who the Americans Abroad play this weekend:

FRIDAY

Jose Torres, Herculez Gomez, Marco Vidal and Pachuca play TP Mazembe in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Steve Cherundolo, DaMarcus Beasleyand Hannover 96 play VfB Stuttgart.

Luis Roblesand Karlsruhe play Arminia Bielefeld.

SATURDAY

Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan, Eric Lichajand Aston Villa play West Bromwich Albion.

Tim Howardand Everton play Wigan Athletic.

Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnsonand Fulham play Sunderland.

Jonathan Spectorand West Ham United play Manchester City.

Conor Doyleand Derby County play Bristol City.

Zak Whitbreadand Norwich City play Portsmouth. (Whitbread is out injured.)

Frank Simek, Mike Grellaand Carlisle United play Dagenham Redbridge.

Jemal Johnsonand Milton Keynes Dons play Notts County.

Anton Peterlinand Plymouth Argyle play Exeter City.

Maurice Edu and Rangers play Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Dominic Cervi and Celtics match against Kilmarnock has been postponed due to weather.

Jozy Altidoreand Villarreal play Getafe.

Ricardo Clarkand Eintracht Frankfurt play FC Cologne.

David Yeldelland MSV Duisburg play SC Paderborn 07.

Charlie Daviesand Sochaux play AS Nancy Lorraine.

SUNDAY

Stuart Holdenand Bolton Wanderers play Blackburn Rovers.

Marcus Hahnemannand Wolverhampton Wanderers play Birmingham.

Oguchi Onyewuand AC Milan play Bologna.

Daniel Williamsand SC Freiburg playMichaelBradleyand Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Jermaine Jonesand Schalke 04 play Mainz.

Amaechi Igweand FC Ingolstadt 04 play Kenny Cooperand TSV 1860 Munich. (Igwe and Cooper are out injured.)

Carlos Bocanegraand St Etienne play AS Monaco.

Sacha Kljestanand RSC Anderlecht play KSC Lokeren.

Do you see Pachuca and the trio of Americans defeating Mazembe in the Club World Cup? Expecting Spector to get another start at defensive mid for West Ham? How do you see Holden and Bolton faring against Blackburn?

Share your thoughts below.

Report: USA to play Egypt | Soccer By Ives

The U.S. national team might be heading to the Middle East in February. A report from Egypt suggests that both the USSF and Egypts FA are in the final stages of negogiations to play a friendly in Cairo on February 9, the first FIFA friendly date of next year.

The game would be a rematch of the 2009 Confederations Cup group match that the U.S. won 3-0 that secured passage through to the semifinal matchup against Spain. Egypt needed to avoid a loss by two goals or less to advance, and failed to secure the result.

It would be the second friendly scheduled for 2011, with the U.S. mens team set to play Chile in 2010.

What do you think of the news? Excited at the prospect of playing Egypt? Think the friendly will happen?

Share your thoughts below.

Morning Ticker: Barcelona signs sponsor, Manchester United gets boost and more | Soccer By Ives

By TRAVIS CLARK

For the first time in Barcelonas history, the Catalan clubs jerseys will bear a sponsor on its front.

Putting an end to 111 years without a sponsor, Barca announced an agreement with the Qatar Foundation in a deal valued at £125 million. Barcelona has previously paid to bear the logo of UNICEF in recent seasons, and will keep that logo as well.

The agreement is for five years, and is scheduled to run through 2016 Barceolina will receive £25 million per year. The non-profit foundation promotes education in the Middle East, and is chaired by Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, the wife of the Qatari Emir who played a role in bringing the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Here are a few other stories for Friday:

MANCHESTER UNITED GETS INJURY BOOST

Ahead of their big game on Monday against Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that the trio of Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Patrice Evra should be fit to face the London club. Ferdinand had to be substituted against Valencia during this weeks Champions League group match, a game that Scholes and Evra both missed out on. Manchester United are one point behind Arsenal in the English Premier League, with a game in hand.

TORONTO SELLS OUT SEASON TICKETS

Despite the clubs poor performance on the field, season tickets in Toronto continue to be a rousing success. Toronto FC announced Friday that the allotment for 2011 season tickets had sold out, with partial ticket packages still available for next season. There had been some controversy surrounding ticket prices earlier in the year, after another price rise.

REAL MADRID EYES GYAN

With star striker Gonzalo Higuain set to miss out 2 months with a hernia injury, Real Madrid is lining up possible replacements for the Argentine. That list includes Sunderland and Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan, who moved from French club Rennes to Sunderland prior to the 2010-11 season for £13 million.

VAN DER VAART TO MISS CHELSEA MATCH

Tottenham midfielder Rafa van der Vaart wont be available for Sundays match against Chelsea, the club revealed Friday. Since moving to the North London club from Real Madrid, van der Vaart has played well, but has battled through a variety of niggling injuries. The Dutch star is recovering from a hamstring injury.

What do you think about Barcelonas jersey deal?